JP On Gaming

Monday, February 22, 2016

[Tweaking Pathfinder] I want to kill Spellcraft

I have been thinking about Pathfinder (again) looking forward to a new half-edition... I have been thinking on some of the ways to streamline the game and make it easier. With a number of skills never getting any love or love that's so specific that players prefer to put points into things they will actually use on a more regular basis. Sure, it streamlines the game and reduce the number of skills.

Although I was a little concern that it might be a little too much trimming, after some thoughts, I began to think about skills that were underused. Why don't we use them? Can we provide means for characters to be able to do more without radically changing the system?

I think these changes would allow character more options in what they do: plans would include more disguises, etc.

Kill Spellcraft!

To be quite honest, I have been wondering more and more what the Spellcraft spell is for. Yeah, yeah I know I've seen what it is used for in the book, but really... I find it underwhelming. Why not roll it into Knowledge (arcana)? It would make identifying magic items simpler.

JP, what about counterspell? you ask? moving to Knowledge (arcana) does not alter this.

Athletics rides into town

Climb is sometimes used while Swim never appears unless the GM runs a very water-heavy campaign. I really think we could simplify the game by making an Athletics skill, that would include Climb and Swim, but could also be used for things like long-range running (think marathon). A lot of other games have gone to something like that, and that would not break the game.

Disguise, Escape Artist and Sleight of Hand go away

Disguise should be rolled under Bluff.

Escape Artist rolls into Acrobatics or Athletics (either could be used).

Sleight of Hand should be rolled into Stealth or Bluff (This one I'm not sure).

Trait-like bonuses

Feats and traits could grant PCs conditional bonuses, like we have for Combat Maneuvers.

Yeah, I like this a lot.



  1. they touch on it in Unchain but it's all optional. Problem with optional rules is that you will never see it except in a few home games...

  2. Totally agree on is very redundant. Or at least, it+Arcana make more sense as one skill.

    I also always know I'm running pathfinder when I call for an athletics test and have to be reminded that it's not a thing. Very frustrating!

    I do think disguise is distinct from bluff, though. For example: a half-ogre might do well to put points in to disguise, but would have a lousy bluff. Gift of the gab =/= ability to look like someone else.

    Escape artist rolled in to acrobatic makes sense to me.

    Sleight of Hand needs to stay separate as well, I feel. Ability to hide in bushes or shadows =/= ability to slip coins from a purse.

  3. I like Pathfinder, it was a real pleasant re-introduction to fantasy role playing. But one of the problems I have is the Skill escalation.

    This may be a bigger issue in the game I am in, where magic is plentiful, so the characters all have ability boosts. But at 10th level for many of the characters the minimum level for the skills they specialize in is about +15 (or more). That means the GM is forced to increase the DC for skill tests. Which means that if you are not trained in a skill, or only minimally trained in it, there is no chance of success.

    So my recommendation would be something along the lines that 5E took. Cap even the highly trained skill levels to a certain number. That way the GM is not constantly having to increase the DC to match character abilities.